Matthew 13:52 (ESV) “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” – Jesus
So I was reading this passage during my devotions last month and it got me thinking – could there be some kind of hermeneutical key here for us as followers of Jesus under the new covenant? Surely Jesus here is making a distinction between how the scribes of second temple Judaism interpret & apply the scriptures and how we as His followers should do the same. For clearly He is speaking to His disciples here (see Hagner, WBC on this verse) following the parables of the kingdom which bring this discourse in Matthew to an end. Indeed Hagner is helpful here:
“The key here – indeed the key to the parables themselves – is the combination of new and old. The parables, like Jesus’ other teaching about the kingdom, involve old familiar things but newly juxtaposed with new elements. In view are not merely new hermeneutical applications of the Torah in new situations, with which scribes have always concerned themselves, nor new applications of old sayings of Jesus… but the relation of the Torah to the genuinely new reality of the kingdom of God (cf. Mark 1:27), the “mysteries” concerning the purposes of God, hidden from the beginning but now being made known (cf. v 35). The Christian scribe, trained in the kingdom and prepared to teach others, must be able to use old and new together to bring clarity and understanding to the message of the kingdom in its application to the present. The old things and the new things of the Christian scribe are both indispensable to the gospel.” *
Or, to summarize/simplify, paraphrase: The new scribes must learn to apply the Old Testament (OT) scriptures through the lens of the kingdom of God! And if that’s not a good, solid kingdom theology based hermeneutic, I don’t know what is?
So what do you think? Is this a good justification for Christological hermeneutics? Is there a difference between Christological interpretation and a kingdom hermeneutic? If we simply interpret the OT based upon strict exegetical rules of literary, historical, social/cultural setting – sure that gets us to the meaning for them “then and there” but what does it mean for us in the “here and now” under the new covenant of grace inaugurated by Jesus? Do things like the law of the jealous husband in Numbers 5 even have relevance for us here in the kingdom age? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
* Donald A Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary (vol. 33a), p. 402.